Governor Northam Weighs In On Paid Sick Days Debate

Jan 22, 2020

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Lawmakers are debating a proposal to require businesses offer paid sick days to their employees. But, Democrats are divided over which businesses would be required to do that.

Governor Ralph Northam is entering the debate over requiring businesses to offer paid sick days to their employees, introducing a proposal that would exempt businesses that have as many as 25 employees. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy estimates that would exempt about 90% of businesses in Virginia.

Delegate Mark Sickles is carrying the governor’s bill in the House of Delegates. 

“We need to grow into these programs. I mean we’ve never done this before," Sickles says. "It’s a major step forward, and I am certainly open to more employers being required to do this than is in my bill. I put this in as a favor to the governor, and we’re going to work it out.”

Senator Barbara Favola has a bill that would mandate five paid sick days, and it would apply to any business that has six or more employees. 

“Employers who are employing 25 individuals or more are already offering five paid sick days to their employees," Favola explains. "So we’re perplexed because we don’t believe that many employers would be affected by the governor’s bill.”

Favola says she’s willing to sit down and work out some kind of compromise. But, she adds, creating an exemption for businesses with as many as 25 employees won’t work.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.